Jordi Calvo: ‘Social change can’t be stopped. There is no going back’

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Minyons Escoltes i Guies de Catalunya
  • Jordi Calvo, Coordinator of the International Peace Bureau in Barcelona.
    Jordi Calvo, Coordinator of the International Peace Bureau in Barcelona. Source: Mario Zamora.

We interviewed Jordi Calvo, Coordinator of the International Peace Bureau in Barcelona and organizer of the World Peace Congress in the same city, which was recently held with a very positive balance.

How was the World Peace Congress established?

Thanks to the work of the International Peace Bureau, a very large and legendary organisation working for international peace that has been in existence for over a century to recover meetings that were held at the start of last century in the way of congresses to promote peace in the world.

We wanted to recover this idea of meeting and placing the issue of peace as a paramount issue on the international political agenda generating a meeting point with many participants and with great prestige to do advocacy work and to reach out not only to people and social movements, but also governments.

Which was this year’s motto and goal?

The motto that was chosen was ‘(Re)imagine our World. Action for Peace and Justice’. This year marks the anniversary of ‘Imagine’, John Lennon’s song that is the flagship song for pacifism around the world and now, more than ever, it is time to re-think and re-imagine creative ways of building a new political, social and economic scenario to live in and look for alternatives.

In light of the climate, the human rights’ and migration crises, the economic and cultural crises ravaging the world, where hate speech, Nazi and fascist far-right movements are on the rise, this all raises great concern and from the congress we want to take the initiative.

What alternatives do we need today?

We need to come up with alternatives that bring hope, which are feasible and that we can implement from civil society and political powers. The motto is focused on this proposal to talk about peace, but also about justice. Peace without justice loses all sense.

What is the pacifist movement’s situation in these times of a global crisis?

As a consequence of the climate crisis, the environmentalist movement is rising and has a huge social and political presence; the feminist movement has made its way into governments and antiracist movements and those supporting refugees such as Welcome Refugees, the movement to express solidarity and support to migrants and Black Lives Matter in the USA have emerged

What is your assessment of the Congress?

In recent years it was difficult to gather a large participation in activities with a pacifist logic and this event was a large-scale gathering with Barcelona as the world capital of peace during a weekend with 3,000 on-line and in-person participants.

At this meeting we have seen how Covid brought things to a halt, but now we are back to the pre-pandemic situation. We need to occupy our streets and show that people are willing to fight for their rights and that the important social change that is happening requires strong resistance, and that is why the far right has skyrocketed.

How do you believe Covid-19 may have had an influence on people gaining awareness on the importance of peace?

I’m not sure whether it helped or slowed things down. Social movements, by definition, need to use tools for social visibility, of protest, being out in the streets and all this was stopped during the pandemic. Before Covid, the feminist movement was unstoppable and reactionary movements have used this to attack and stop feminism as well as many other mobilizations.

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